Drunk Driving Musings

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel has written a long series of articles on drunk driving in Wisconsin. Whether you call it OWI, DUI, OUI or just drunk driving, there's no question drinking and driving is a big part of the social scene in Wisconsin. The baseball team is the Brewers, everyone knows the "beer frame" in bowling, there are brewery tours at both the major and minor breweries in Wisconsin that serve plenty of beer and "happy hours" have been a big part of the bar scene for generations. How do you think people get home from all the bars in Wisconsin?

The mixed messages we send to our citizens is remarkable. We talk about getting a cab or taking a bus if you've had too much to drink. But we all know that outside of the urban areas, there are no cabs or buses or other public transportation.  Whether you're in Waukesha County, Washington County or Ozaukee County, even if you're near Milwaukee there is simply no alternative other than to  drive home even if you suspect you may have had too much to drive.

So we drink and we drive. And we hire lawyers when we drink and drive. Can the drunk driver lawyers get you off?  Sometimes. It helps if you're not too much over the limit.  The truth is that many times all we can do is limit the damage. It would be helpful if the legislature would allow probation for 2nd and 3rd offense OWI or DUI. Currently, the only alternative for judges is to put people in jail for those offenses.  The Journal-Sentinel article complains that Wisconsin is the most lenient state in the US on drunk driving. But Illinois and other states allow for an informal probation system that allows 1st offenders to escape a conviction with the successful completion of probation. And probation would certainly benefit the majority of 2nd and 3rd offenders and help to make our streets safer. But the hardliners at MADD and BADD think probation shows weakness on OWI cases. So people go to jail for short periods of time, usually with work release, and come out just as dangerous as they went in.

My advice? Don't drink and drive. But if you do, (and, face it, we all do) and you get caught, call a lawyer who specializes in criminal and traffic defense. He may not get you off, but he can certainly minimize the consequences. www.reddinandsinger.com

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